The Men Who Stare at Goats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: BBC Films

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Grant Heslov

Review Rating: 7

A bitter divorcee smalltown reporter goes to Iraq to take his mind off his troubles, and meets a man claiming to have been involved in military experiments of a paranormal nature.

 It’s not a bad movie, all things considered. Matter of fact, if people generally weren’t so jaded, especially when it comes to movies, this movie would have been downright popular. As it is, a good portion of the movie involves George Clooney as the lead character Lyn Cassady, recruited when he was young in the U.S. Army for the New Earth Army, a kind of combination of hippie, monk, flower-child and love, but well, still in the Army. Lyn truly believes he has supernatural powers and while the movie doesn’t show them working all that often, there are moments when you have to wonder. He’s funny, sure, but it’s an aging and almost pathetic manner of funny. Bob Wilton the reporter, played by Ewan McGregor, goes from your average disbeliever to, at the very least, a great supporter of the ideals of the New Earth army. Bob is trying to get into Iraq, meets Lyn, who gets him into Iraq and the two of them are promptly kidnapped. Through their various adventures is interspliced the story of how the New Earth Army came about, narrated by McGregor.

 Army soldier Bill Django, played by the wonderful Jeff Bridges with looong hair, decides when he’s young to find other, gentler ways to bring peace to the world, and goes on what could be considered a journey through philosophy, learning and experimentation. However, that journey involves paganism, hippie love, eastern mysticism and all sorts of other pagan things. Bill returns to the Army after some six years and forms his own squad, the New Earth army, and recruits Lyn Cassady. Later Larry Hooper, Kevin Spacey starring, joins New Earth, but his methods are more geared toward using Sci-powers as weapons, plus he’s adamant about taking over someday and remaking the squad in his own vision.

 And here we are back in relative modern day, with Lyn and Bob wandering the Iraq desert, where they are dubiously rescued by the new New Earth army base, where of course Hooper is in charge and Bill, poor Bill, is just an old employee with a white ponytail and a penchant for ice cream. Lyn is still saddened by everything the Army made him do after Bill was tossed from New Earth, up to and including killing a poor goat supernaturally, but he decides to try and fix things with Bob and Bill’s help. Of course, fix things might be stretching it a bit, given what they do to the entire camp (I won’t spoil it). But remember, this is supposed to be a movie, as far as I saw it, about finding strength and courage in your own abilities and skills, no matter what they might be, and to remind your fellow man of love and peace. I would say The Men Who Stare at Goats pulled that one off, at least.

A rare look at kindness inside an admittedly warrior-like Army, this movie is worth a big smile.

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